Wednesdays with Jillene: when you can’t see the why

“But… why?”

Oh, how many, many, many, many times in life do we ask, “Why?”

It think it is intrinsic to who we are as human beings to want to know why. Did you ever notice, that for all the times we seek the answer to that ever present questions, there are way too many times the answer isn’t given?

As a mom, I hear the why questions asked, almost ad nauseam. While there are a myriad of reasons for the zillions of “why” questions, you know, there are many times that the answer is simply: because.

because that is what has to be right now.

I’m smiling as I typed that, shook my head a little bit too. Nope, not because I take some sick mom pleasure in frustrating my kids with that answer. Instead, in recognition of how sufficient that non-sufficient answer really is… because.

Asking “Why?” doesn’t end with childhood. In fact, I know many of you have been asking, “Why?” a lot lately. All right my friends… let’s get real, this is a time I am writing a post because I know some of you are facing some really big stuff.  And, for all the ways you’re looking at the situation, no matter how you turn it around… you can’t see the why.

I know what that’s like, I’ve been there too. I’ve faced some big stuff in life. I’ve sat with tears pouring down my face, throat raw from crying, head pounding from the unrelenting, overwhelming, inability to make sense of it all.

And I’ve asked, “Why?”

With no answer in return.

I’m not talking here about one of those times when I was disappointed because my favorite mug broke and I cried out in great disappointment, “Why? Why did that have to happen? Why can’t I have nice things?” I’m talking just talking about those awful times when I stub my toe, break one of those tiny nails and having it bleed while I fuss, “Why? Why didn’t the kids pick up those stupid toys that always get in my way making me trip?”

Those aren’t fun times, for sure, no doubt. But, there is a whole other level of awful that we face. Unavoidable, unrelenting, unending struggles that we desperately want to know the why.

“Why God? Why am I going through this? God, what are you trying to teach me? Did I do something wrong? God, show me how I need to grow? God, why?”

and sometimes no answer comes

I didn’t like typing that. I want to pull this whole thing together in a nice pretty package with healing words that makes everything all right. I want to have insight that give purpose to your pain or meaning to your struggle.

‘Cause I know how desperately you want to know why.

Yesterday, (goodness, ya know, there are a so many of you friends who are hurting) God brought this scripture to mind from John 9.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

Oh the why question in this passage… did you see it? It didn’t have the word “why” but it was a BIG why question.

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Why… why was this man born blind? Who was at fault for this awful situation.

Here’s a thing worth noting, this was a man, not an infant, not a boy, not a tween… later in the passage, his parents are clear, “He is of age; he will speak for himself.” This was an adult. I can only imagine what it was like for them as parents and for him to live his whole life blind.

I’m guessing a whole lot of why questions come up. From his parents as they grappled, as parents do when facing something like this, “Why did this happen? Is this our fault? Did we cause this?” From within himself, “God, why did I have to be blind? What if I’m good enough, holy enough, pray hard enough… will you take this away? Why am I suffering so?” From their community, “Why was this child born blind? Who’s sin is responsible for this birth defect?”

And here we find them years later, still with the why question.

Jesus answer cuts to my heart, sends chills down my spine:

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

Friends, for years this man, his parents lived without the why. I wondered what it was like to finally hear the why? What must it have been like to finally have a purpose for the suffering, reason for the trial? What must it have been like to have the power of God displayed right there, miraculously in the area of his life of great shame, weakness and purposelessness?!

The thing that gets me though, right to the heart here, is that Jesus said: neither. He said that this happened so the works of God might be displayed in him. It wasn’t the blind man’s fault, not his parent’s, not the result of sin, not something that deep devotion could fix… no… this happened so that the works of God might be displayed.

Oh friends, as much as we want a why to the hard times we face… as much as we want to know how to make it better or what it was supposed to teach us or how the bad things will help us trust God more… sometimes we need to know the events/circumstances of life are for the glory of God, for His work to be revealed.

What situations are you facing where you can’t see the why? How does it change the struggles you are facing today, to stop looking for the why in all the wrong places? What if, when no why can be found, you turn your focus to the glory and power of God at work?

How can I pray for you today?


This post was originally published by Jillene at: published here with permission.

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Wednesdays with Jillene: not the time to talk

This is no shocker to those who know me: I talk… a lot. What do you imagine it would be like to be there when I encounter one of those rare moments when I’m speechless? I guess you could be relieved that I finally stopped gabbing. Would you be perplexed to see this side of me you’d never encountered? Likely some might be super curious as to what could leave me mute!

Believe it or not, even for me, times come when there just isn’t anything to say. Some days there may be mounds of things to say but I’m not sure I have enough voice to speak. Then again, sometimes it’s not the time to talk… sure, I’ve had laryngitis a few times, sat through events or meetings when I needed to be quiet… but there have also been those events when I was unable to speak. And we all can imagine times when words are best left unsaid. And occasionally I’ve been held back from being able to use my voice no matter how much I’d wanted to do so.

Wonder what that was like for Zechariah?

When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.

One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.

11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.[b] 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,[c] and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”

18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”

19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. 22 When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary.

Here this man of God has an unimaginable encounter with an angel of the Lord. No one else was there… no one else heard the words… no one knew what had been foretold for Zechariah and Elizabeth… and no one would hear it told for months.

It makes me smirk a little bit when I read about the people waiting for Zechariah, “When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary.” It might have gone from comical to perplexing to completely baffling when Zechariah emerged unable to speak.

And for more than 9 months Zechariah couldn’t use words to tell them.

23 When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home.24 Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. 25 “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”

More than 9 months of silence, his speech held back. And then the day of his son’s birth arrives.

57 When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. 58 And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her.

59 When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!”

61 “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” 62 So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. 63 He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God.

65 Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. 66 Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.

At just the right time, God restores Zechariah’s voice. His son is given the proper name. More than that, God was praised and His glory revealed.

You know, most of us will never face 9 months of not being able to speak, but there are times when that will happen. Maybe our voice won’t physically be restrained and yet we will find it not our time, words will fail us, courage runs short, or God makes it clear we should be silent.

And we’ll wait.

We’ll wait for God’s perfect timing to restore our “voice” and watch Him work all things to our good. Sometimes the way we see God most at work is when we cannot, when all we can do is watch.

Are there things in your life right now that it is “not the time to talk” about? Things that no words of yours can solve? Circumstances where you are not “allowed” to speak? What will you do while you wait?

‘Cause you could get angry… frustrated… just plain give up hope.

Or you could wait faithfully in the silence, trusting God, prayerfully looking for Him at work.


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Wednesdays with Jillene: homophones, for the times you say one thing when really you should mean the other

Homophones are fun… and obnoxious. Great amusement can result from their intentional use and (often) unintended misuse. When it comes to learning spelling, homophones can be a source of intense frustration. For the purposes of understanding in the flow of conversation, homonyms are even worse.

  1. each of two or more words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling, e.g., new and knew.
    • each of a set of symbols denoting the same sound or group of sounds.

[I really hope you watched that video!]

Now, this is great fun and all… but this isn’t a grammar lesson. I’m the wrong person to try and educate you on the intricacies of the English language. This is on my mind because there are times when homophones and their unintentional misuse or misunderstanding influence us in ways we could not fathom.

Take for instance: Break vs Brake

What if there are times life has us screaming (literally and/or figuratively), “Give me a break.” And we are left feeling, “God why are you trying to break me?” When we really should be crying out, “Lord, give me a brake.”

Before you click away from this post thinking I’ve completely lost my mind, read what Ann Voskamp has to say about this:

“You’ve heard that a shepherd will break a sheep’s leg if it wanders from the flock?” the man asks us, rod in his hand, rooted tree at his back. “You’ve heard this? Break its leg to keep it from breaking away from the flock?” He shakes his head, disgusted.

“A shepherd would never, ever break a sheep’s bones… Listen– this is what a shepherd does.” And he explains that a shepherd may put a “brake” on a sheep’s leg– a weight to temporarily stop a stiff-necked sheep from running astray.

Sometimes what we think may break us is but a brake to save us. Sometimes what we feel weighing us down is the way He draws us closer. Sometimes what we may believe is keeping us from more is a way to keep us close enough to know more of who we are: beloved.  

Maybe it’s the compassion of God that uses the unexpected to brake me so the unholy doesn’t break me. What’s slowing me down and braking me could be a gift that’s keeping me from breaking…

Excerpt from Chapter 17 of The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp

Take that in for a bit, let that one sink deep. And as I think it through, Jesus’ words come to mind and I turn them round and round (again).

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus’ words pierce into my heavy laden heart, my all too busy schedule, my overworked mind and offers me the rest I desperately need. But the struggle of it is how to do that… to come to Jesus with my burdens, the weights I carry and instead take up His yoke. What does that look like? ‘Cause, try as I may, what I often find myself feeling as if He’s “let me down.” I know that isn’t true but it is what I’m prone to feeling.

I come to Jesus, I “give” him my burdens… but they don’t go away… I don’t feel rested… I still feel burdened… Because, let me just stop here and say, there are days when I’m sure God is trying to break me. But maybe the breaking is only happening because I won’t let God brake me.

Um… that hits a little too close to home.

What if… what if that’s because I’m looking for the wrong rest? The truth of the matter is, more often than I care to admit, giving my burdens to God goes a little like this, “Here God, take this burden, carry it for me. I need a break. ” The unburdening doesn’t happen if I drop off one burden at the foot of the cross and, while experiencing relief, I continue in my bad habits and in turn pick up another. Or if I only give over what had me heavy laden for just long enough to catch my breath so I can pick it back up again.

What if what I really need is to brake or I’m going to break?

Funny how blame can be placed on God for breaking us when we’re the ones doing the breaking. As we attempt to continue full throttle through His brake applied on our lives, the shattering we feel is of our own doing.

And oh yes, do we ever we need rest.

But see here, turns out rest is one of those tricky words too.

And there it is… the crux of the matter. I’m so often looking for God to give me a break so I can rest (a time of relaxation, refreshment and recovery of strength) so I can go on doing what I do. When what I really need is for God to brake me so I can find rest (placement or support so as to stay in a specified position) in Him, not a temporary but a permanent rest.

How about you? Words sure are tricky, hearts even more so.  Where does this speak to you today? In what areas do you feel you need a break? How may God be applying a brake to your life? How does Jesus give a rest for your burdens? How do you need to find Him your permanent placement and support for true rest?


This post was originally published by Jillene at:

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Important Dates for May and June

It’s MAY!! That means exciting things are coming to camp very soon! We want to make sure you’ve marked your calendar and are ready to join us!


May 6th and May 13th: Work Days. Come on out starting at 9 am and help us clean up camp and get reading for the 2017 season! We have a variety of indoor and outdoor work tasks to be done. Give camp a call (716.492.4494) to let us know you’ll be attending or with any questions. We provide coffee, tea, lunch, water and snacks. There is a lot to be done to get camp ready, we hope you’ll come and help!

May 12th: Family Camp opens. Campsites are $28 per night. Tents, campers and RVs are welcome along with limited availability of cabin rentals. On holiday weekends we offer extra programming like boating, swimming (weather permitting), crafts and more. Give us a call for more info or to reserve your spot. You can download our Family Camp Brochure here.

June 10th: Open House. Come join us from 10am – 3pm for our Launch Party. You might wonder, “What are they launching?” Well, we are going to launch the summer of 2017! Come out and explore camp, stop at our “Launch the Summer Stations” all around camp and get our season started right! We will have games, crafts, tours, boating/swimming depending on weather, lunch, campfire and more. Best of all? It is a FREE day! Bring a friend who has never been to camp to show them what Camp Vick is all about!

June 14th: Day of Prayer. Spend a day in the solitude and peace of camp in a time of prayer, reflection and focus on God. Give camp a call to let us know you’ll be attending or for more information.

June 18th: Father’s Day Fishing Derby. You’re hearing it here first! We will be again having our Father’s Day Fishing Derby! Bring the family down and enjoy an afternoon at camp. We’ll be hosting a fishing derby followed by dinner. Bring a dish to pass and camp will provide hotdogs, drinks and dishes!

The fun is just beginning! Registration is open for our July and August Children/Youth camping sessions. Check out our brochure for more information here.

If you would like any more information, have questions or would like to visit camp on a day not listed above: give camp a call 716.492.4494

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Wednesdays with Jillene: do you trust me?

My Ellie… Our type A, planner, organizer, little lady is having a rough go of being nine years old. Life is sure meeting her straight on with opportunities to stretch her character and grow in maturity… or not. It really is up to her and how she chooses to respond.

Small interaction to show you what I’m talking about:

Ellie had this sore on her knee. Not unusual, as she lets me know about most of her bumps, bruises and scrapes (she does, after all, want to make sure everything is going to be okay.) This one she showed to her dad first. He mentioned it to me when I returned home that night, after she was asleep.

Tucking her in for bed a few days later, I (finally) remembered to ask.

Ellie got nervous. She wanted me to take care of the spot but she didn’t want it to hurt. She fussed. She said her hand felt funny, her stomach jumpy. Things were going downhill… and fast.

I took her hands, looked right in her eyes and gently asked, “Do you trust me?”

Elanor’s voice quivering a little while she regained composure, “Yes, momma. Why?”

“Remember how we talked about trust? Do you believe that I love you and have your best in mind, that even when you don’t like it or if it hurts for a little bit that I’m doing what is best for you and will take care of you?”

“I trust you mom. I’m just a little scared.”

Step by step I reminded her of those facts. We worked through her feelings, what I was going to do and coping skills she could use… Didn’t stop the pain… Didn’t stop her from worrying… and yet, when it was all said and done, Elanor smiled, hugged me and said, “Thank you mom. It wasn’t as bad as I thought.”

Oh goodness…  Let me tell you, I didn’t get to her door before the words I’d spoken were echoing in my own mind.

“Do you trust me? Do you trust me to do what is best for you even if you don’t like it or even if it hurts?”

Do I trust God?

Do I trust God to do what is best for me… even if I don’t like it… even if it hurts?

We can trust God in a Jeremiah 29:11 kind of way, when God’s plans are to prosper us and bring us a hope and a future.

But what about the Psalm 23 moments as we face the valley of the shadow of death moments of life? Or when we’re facing a Hebrews 12 time of painful discipline? What about  a Psalm 13 moment when our heart cries, “How long?”

Can we choose trust that is not dependent upon our circumstance but in God who, by His very nature, is trustworthy?

When Ellie trusted me it didn’t mean the wound was magically healed, didn’t mean there was no pain, didn’t mean she was completely free from worry. But step-by-step she trusted me to do what was best.

Can I trust God, in the small and big, easy and hard, simple and complex situations of life?

And you? What things stretch your ability or willingness to trust God? How can you remind yourself of His faithfulness, goodness and perfect plan? What steps can you take to trust through the less than pleasant times of life?


This post was originally published by Jillene at:

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